Guayabo National Monument, set on the jungle-rich slopes of the Turrialba Volcano, protects one of Costa Rica’s most important archaeological sites, Guayabo de Turrialba. The historic ruins make up the largest pre-Columbian city discovered in Costa Rica.
Guayabo National Monument
Guayabo National Monument is located northwest of Turrialba, in the District of Santa Teresita in the canton of Turrialba, province of Cartago. It was established to protect the Guayabo de Turrialba archaeological site.
This wilderness area protects a remnant of pre-montane evergreen rainforest in an altitudinal range of 990 m (3,248 ft) and 1,300 m (4,265) above sea level. Temperatures here average 75°F (24°C).
The monument encompasses approximately 233 ha (575 acres). Approximately 20 ha (50 acres) of the protected area includes the archaeological site, which consists of a set of pre-Columbian architectural structures.
Guayabo de Turrialba
Set on the jungle-rich slopes of the Turrialba Volcano, the historic ruins of Guayabo de Turrialba make up the largest pre-Columbian city ever discovered in Costa Rica, believed to have been home to nearly 10,000 people during its prime (around AD 800).
The site is located northwest of Turrialba, in the District of Santa Teresita, province of Cartago.
The site is of great archeological and cultural importance, even though only a small portion has been uncovered and studied. The site was first discovered in the 1800s and was first excavated in the year 1882.
The Guayabo site belongs to the Intermediate Area cultural region, ranging from Alajuela in Costa Rica to the plains of the Orinoco River in Venezuela and northern Ecuador.
The Guayabo de Turrialba contains a wide array of stone-paved streets and round platforms, which were the base for wooden structures, aqueducts, ponds, carved stone designs and drawings of animals.
Inhabited as early as 1000 BC, archaeologists are still unclear why this thriving city was mysteriously abandoned around 1400 AD.
The economy of this indigenous group was based on agriculture, hunting and fishing. The pottery and gold artifacts unearthed from here are now on display at the National Museum in San Jose.